On Lieberman-hatred

I’ve written about the insanity of Howard Dean and his brother, and bloggers like Daily Kos, trying to take down Sen. Joe Lieberman. The New Republic’s Peter Beinert has a superb column about this. The key grafs:

Lieberman’s problem is that bloggers like Kos aren’t very ideological either. Temperament defines them, too. It’s just the opposite temperament. For Kos and the other Lieberman-haters, liberalism means confrontation, at least in the Bush era. In their view, politics should be guided by the spirit of war. If you don’t want to crush
conservatives, you are not a liberal.

So Lieberman-hatred is really all about style, right? Actually, no–there’s one final slice, and it’s the most important of all. Behind Lieberman’s obsession with national unity is his deep conviction that the United States is at war–not just in Iraq, but around the world. The war on terrorism is his prism for viewing Bush. And it drains away his anger at the president’s misdeeds, because they always pale in comparison to those of America’s true enemy. When the Abu Ghraib revelations broke, Lieberman said America should apologize, but then added that “those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, never apologized.”

But why should our horror at September 11 mitigate our horror at U.S. torture? Liberals have the right to measure the Bush administration against our vision of America, not merely against the reality of America’s enemies. Judging the United States by the standards of Al Qaeda–like judging the United States by the standards of the Soviet Union during the cold war–makes it far too easy to absolve our
government’s sins. Joseph McCarthy was far better than Josef Stalin, but he was still a menace. Richard Nixon was far better than Leonid Brezhnev, but he still deserved to be impeached.

Beinert sensibly gives Lieberman’s critics their due, but I’m with Joe. We’re at war. It’s fine to pile on President Bush for his domestic policies, and make room for me. But when it comes to Iraq or fighting against the jihad? We should be on his side.

3 thoughts on “On Lieberman-hatred

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